Gaming Afternoon at Larry’s

Mark was visiting from Ohio, so Larry offered up his place for some gaming. I went in thinking I might like to try to get a game of Liberty in, since I expect to receive Columbia’s new Gettysburg game any day now and after that happens it might be a while before I get to play Liberty enough to finally figure out what I think of it. But that was a long shot given it was a eurogaming crowd, so I was pretty happy when Amun-Re came out, since I’d been thinking about it after reading a list soliciting strategy tips for various games on BoardGameGeek. Amun-Re is a very neat game that I think might be under-appreciated.

Anyway, we had one new player and 4 who had played before (I definitely think it’s significantly the best with 5). It was interesting, because I really thought I was not playing well and thoroughly hosed – I found myself with little money as I had provinces without farmers, camels, or residual income while other players were earning big bucks on farmers due to a big sacrifice. I invested in power card provinces, but the power cards I drew featured the “sacrifice twiddler” card heavily (3 times, I think), a card I am not particularly fond of. However, I did have strategic pyramids, and the sacrifices dried up towards the first scoring round, and I entered into the second round in better shape. By bidding very conservatively and very carefully hoarding my money, I managed to pull back in it – and I actually would have won if I had bid 7 instead of 9 for the last sacrifice. I had forgotten that bidding high would drive up the value of other players’ temples, so I just slapped all my money down since I knew I needed to win the last auction. This was the closest game I’ve ever played, with the top three players separated by a single point.

I like Amun-Re a lot. It’s not as good as Taj Mahal or Tigris & Euphrates, in my opinion – but I think it’s closer than people give it credit for. The power cards are slightly uneven – the one that allows you to alter the sacrifice total and the one that allows you to rebid in a given province seem weak in comparison to the others – but it’s really pretty close.

Second was Tongiaki. This is I think the third time I’ve played, and I definitely like it as a solid middle-tier game. It’s short-ish, it’s neat, games are very different each time, the game is dynamic, it’s got interesting choices. Plus, I won – although it was very close. We played with 4 this time, which is probably the ideal number. I dunno, but until somebody tells me the 6-player game is really great, I remain leery of playing with 5 or more – but 3 or 4 seem really good. Often these light-ish start fading pretty quickly, but Tongiaki seems solid.

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